Neon Lights

By: Stanley Allan Sherman
© September 25, 2011

Created and performed by: Chris Manley & Jeff Seal
Directed by: Danny Manley

What wonderfully fun clowning. Great use of every object and almost every moment in the show. Danny Manley did a wonderful job directing these two making what they had into somewhat of a complete show or at least on the road and going in the right direction. They set up the microphones and stands, messing up in just the right way and not overplaying it and not pretending to fail…but really failing over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over … until somehow they managed to start using the microphones. But they did not stop there. The microphone fed back and they explored that element to the full extent. Great clowning! Great prop manipulation!

There was true laugher from the audience, from the beginning to the end of the show. The type of humor is soulful and simple. There was raw playing at every moment and yes, their material is stupid, so stupid it becomes profound and refreshing. In one piece, they turn the tables on “the talkback”, making fun of the talkbacks with the audience at the end of plays nowadays. Jeff and Buttons (Chris) sat on their chairs and asked the audience questions. Pointing out someone, they asked, “How did you get here?” The audience member told them. They had the audience hoping they would call on them, a great achievement. Great play.

A few shows have made fun of bad miming. Chris and Jeff are the only ones to truly succeed at doing real bad mime and making it fun and funny. At one point in the show Jeff was climbing around in the audience and went up to a woman in the audience and almost fell over trying to touch her breasts. Then Jeff announces to the young woman, “All I want to do is touch your boobs. No really, all I want to do is touch your boobs.” This went on for a while and the woman was playing along as well as her seatmates. It was done in such a way, with such honesty, that it was funny and not insulting. Jeff played the awkwardness of the situation – somehow doing it so that it walked that thin line.

These two were the only ones to really successfully use media well in this festival. Their slide show with commentary was great. We could very clearly see the slides. There were lots of terrific moments in this show. You can tell these two really worked many of the moments. The show still needs forming and shaping. Explorations of the over all build of the show is needed. But for an opening night, they have a solid foundation for building into the future. Danny Manley, excellent job directing.

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